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US customs’ ill-treatment of students ‘hurt relations’

In this file photo taken in May, 2019, Chinese students attend the graduation ceremony at the Columbia University in New York. (WANG YING / XINHUA)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that about 30 Chinese students and scholars were unfairly treated by US customs officials earlier this year. And some of them were interrogated in a rather unfriendly manner, ministry officials claimed at a news conference on Wednesday.

The US customs officials gave a rather lame excuse for most of these actions. They denied entry to three Chinese students and repatriated them on Aug 15 because, they claimed, they either enjoyed Chinese government "support" or had a "military background". They arrived at the latter conclusion because some students had selfies in military gear on their smartphone.

Had the US custom officials checked online they would have realized that the Chinese government supports a wide range of students to complete their education. As for the photos, military training is something many Chinese students are expected to undergo. Even the US has scouts, and it would be absurd to say that everyone who has ever been a scout has links with the military.

It seems that, at least with regard to academic and cultural exchanges, the incumbent US administration's policy is no less hostile toward China than that of its predecessor

ALSO READ: China urges US to stop suppressing Chinese students

It seems that, at least with regard to academic and cultural exchanges, the incumbent US administration's policy is no less hostile toward China than that of its predecessor. Its law enforcers still harass Chinese scholars and students, which will harm the normal people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The exchange of students and scholars boosts academic exchanges, and those who curb it hurt normal relations between countries.

In March, Peter Walker, a senior honorary partner at McKinsey's, spoke highly of Chinese talents, saying they have made great contributions to the US' achievements in technology. Some US scholars have objected to their government's ill-treatment of Chinese students and scholars.

The White House claims it does not want a "new Cold War" with China, but the repatriation of Chinese students shows that its actions do not match its words. At Wednesday's news conference, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US to protect the legal rights and interests of Chinese scholars and students.

It is time the US matched its words with deeds.